Live

A Friday Sidebar – Too Late For Goodbye

333 views

When I was a little kid, circumstances dictated that I usually did not have a gang to hang around with.

Not that I didn’t have friends. On the contrary: I’ve had some great pals over the years.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about:

Cocoa. (1965)

The sign nailed to the telephone pole featured a kid-scribbled price list:

“Dogs for sale four dollars each the brown one is three dollars”

An entire dollar off? I couldn’t afford not to. I really hoped that Mom would see it that way.

She was not happy at all that I’d made the purchase, and she immediately told me to give the dog back. But when we returned to the scene of the crime, both the sign – as well as all of Cocoa’s brothers and sisters -were long gone. We both gave her the “sad eyes,” she gave in, and he came home to live with me.

He was my first best friend. To this day, from out of nowhere: a memory of his unique scent will flood my mind. It’s a nice kind of a smell, and for an instant, I’m seven years old again, and we’re doing what kids and dogs do: hanging around together, with no particular mission. Which just might be the entire point of kids and dogs.

After about a year, my mother explained that Cocoa was sick with a “dog disease,” and that he was going away to live in New York, on a farm with other dogs who had the same problem. I never got over it. But at least I got to say goodbye.

Lucky. (1967)

In the last days of fifth grade, a stranger followed me on my walk home from school.

Every day for a week.

No collar. No license. A little bit on the skinny side. And, this is the important part: there was not a single “LOST DOG” sign to be seen on the lampposts of the neighborhood. By Friday afternoon, I was scheming for a way to keep my tagalong waif.

We were best friends for ten years: from the Summer of Love, all the way to the last days of Disco. And when the time came that Lucky could no longer walk, we went for a car ride, and I learned the meaning of “you gotta do what you gotta do.” And I did. And I never got over it. But at least I got to say goodbye.

Speedy. (1997)

In the state that I lived in, greyhound racing was a legal and state-sponsored vehicle for separating people from their money.

I read an article about the sad and dangerous lives that these beautiful dogs led, and their fate, after their two-year racing career was over. I decided to do my very small part. I found a greyhound rescue organization and became the proud pet-parent of the not-at-all-ironically-named Speedy.

He was a silent and noble companion, who needed to be taught how to climb stairs. A half-can of tuna fish was a favorite treat, until it wasn’t, and when the veterinarian explained the reason why, it was time to make a decision. And once again, I did. And I never got over it. But at least I got to say goodbye.

Goodgirl. (2010)

I was doing research online one night seeking financial information about a Canadian province. You can just guess the kind of Googlelian rabbit hole I ended up in.

Yep: “Nunatsiavut” begets “Newfoundland,” which of course, steered me to Labradorretriever… to a dog adoption site… and…

Turns out that it’s hereditary: I’m a sucker for sad eyes.

I took a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard to adopt Goodgirl. She enjoyed the ride back to the mainland, and just for fun, we made the trip an annual event for the next 11 years. When it was her time, it was very hard to do – but once again, I found myself saying goodbye. And I never got over it.

Summer. (2020)

During the heyday of the pandemic, I again found myself pining for four-legged companionship. Enter: a homeless stray, found wandering the streets of Louisville.

It was an instant connection – I can’t put into words my empathic and perhaps irrational attachment to this dog. Such a great friend, to put up with all of my nonsense.

This past year, I’ve often spoke about the frequent travel required in my job. And whenever I go away, I always make a big deal about saying goodbye to my buddy. It’s a ritual; a little game that makes me feel better. “OK, gotta go. Goodbye. Now, you be good, and I’ll see you Saturday. Goodbye.”

Three weeks ago on a Monday night when I was 1200 miles from home, I got a call: something was terribly wrong with my dog. Her noble, sweet and loyal seven-year-old heart… stopped. And she died.

And as I tried to man-up and listen to the clinical explanation from the 24-hour emergency pet hospital vet, all I could think of was, “I’m too late. I’m always there when it’s time to say goodbye. But it’s too late.”

The guilt and shattering sadness, and the fact that I wasn’t present in her final moments has been haunting. I still think I hear her snoring in the middle of the night. Part of me hates it. And part of me hopes that it continues. For a little while longer, anyway.

I’ve said four times that “I’ll never get over it.” And in some ways, that could be true. But maybe there is a reason that I keep finding myself in the company of dogs, and finding myself filled with happiness for the too-brief time that our lives intersect. Perhaps I’m supposed to perpetually be a “dog person:” a caretaker for animals who need love. Maybe that’s my purpose. I’ll go with that theory for now.

And although at this moment, I’m feeling like, “I can never do this again,” we all know: of course I’m going to.

Because as hard as the “goodbyes” are:

I think that I owe it to my unknown, future best friend to try and come up with at least one more “hello.”

26

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!

mt58

Your grateful host. Good on you all.

Subscribe
Notify of
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
cstolliver
Member
Famed Member
cstolliver
Offline
November 3, 2023 5:21 am

So beautifully said, my friend. The next canine that finds a home with you will have hit the jackpot. Hugs to you, and thanks for sharing your lovely brood with us.

rollerboogie
Member
Famed Member
rollerboogie
Offline
November 3, 2023 7:52 am

This is really moving. Losing a beloved pet (and they’re all beloved, aren’t they?) is so painful, but the joy and companionship they bring us in life is such a blessing and is what makes it so difficult to lose them. They’re so much more than pets! You expressed this wonderfully here, and even though I’m a cat person, I was with you every step of the way here and totally relating. Thanks for sharing this.

Last edited 6 months ago by rollerboogie
Phylum of Alexandria
Member
Famed Member
November 3, 2023 7:56 am

It’s always so hard to lose a pet; it never gets easier. Heck, I lost it just a few years back over my pet hamster, though she was the cutest hamster ever.

And no pet gives love, loyalty, and affection quite like a dog. Rest in peace, Summer. Thank you for warming the heart of our dear friend.

Phylum of Alexandria
Member
Famed Member
November 5, 2023 9:12 am

Thinking of you, Ham Chan…

ham.jpg
Virgindog
Member
Famed Member
Virgindog
Online Now
November 3, 2023 9:11 am

Aw, man. What a lovely tribute. I love that you had a greyhound because we had one, too, as you can see in my avatar. That’s Minx. She was retired from the track young because she wasn’t fast, and she refused to be bred. I already had the Virgindog handle, but it described her perfectly. Mind of her own, that one. But yes, they’re quiet and noble, except they have the stinkiest farts in the world. Good grief, what a stench.

I’m sorry you were away when Summer passed. There’s no rational reason to feel guilty but emotions aren’t rational. I get it. Just like with all passings, we get over it and we don’t. There’s always a spot in our hearts for the departed. May you never lose it.

R.S.Wonham
Member
Noble Member
R.S.Wonham
Offline
November 3, 2023 9:52 am

That was so very beautiful and touching. Happy that all parties intersected in this world and made each other’s life happier. I am now a bit melancholy and RadioWonham is now playing Gabriel Fauré’ s Requiem, with Gorecki’s III to follow. Sometimes sad music helps lift the mood. Deep breaths.

N.B. I am sure there are many ferry’s to Martha’s Vineyard, but I know the one from Woods Hole (someday I will get to MV). I was in WH for work and the area around WH/Cape Cod is beautiful. Sadly, my fondest memory of the place was the Pie In the Sky diner, near the shuttle, that served the best coconut, chocolate bars. MMMM!

Low4
Member
Famed Member
Low4
Online Now
November 3, 2023 10:44 am

So sorry for your loss. Believe me, I know it’s real.

Damnit, this is killing me. Just over a month ago we had to have our 8lb Schnauzer put down and I’ll never get over it, or her. It was stunning how much life and love flowed from that little girl. We’re non-believers, but my wife has always said that if heaven exists the first thing that happens is that all your dogs run up to greet you. I truly believe that dogs are better than us and that we’re only barely worthy of everything they give.

I’ve got to hope that when the space aliens come to destroy earth that the first thing that happens is that they encounter a lab. That just might save us.

LinkCrawford
Member
Famed Member
LinkCrawford
Offline
November 3, 2023 11:13 am

I didn’t grow up with dogs, but we went through a few when I was in my 30s. Quickly. Things didn’t go so well. But then we got Karmil, she’s now a 12 year old Australian Shepherd, and she is THE family dog. I can’t imagine the sadness when she passes, but I know that day is quickly approaching.

All of this reminds me of why I love “Shannon” by Henry Gross so much. Yes, the dead dog tirade of Casey Kasem, and the sappiness and all of that–I know, I know. But that song really gets to me sometimes. Doggos are great. (cats are, too…they’re just a lot different).

Last edited 6 months ago by LinkCrawford
Pauly Steyreen
Member
Famed Member
November 3, 2023 12:41 pm

I knew as soon as I started reading this it was going to be a heartbreaker. Thanks mt58, now I’ll go back to chopping onions… (And good on you bud!)

JJ Live At Leeds
Member
Famed Member
November 3, 2023 12:59 pm

A fine tribute to all of your canine companions and a measure of what a great guy you are. I’ve never had a dog (or a cat) but I can feel the love you had for them and the pain in saying goodbye. Thanks for sharing.

lovethisconcept
Member
Famed Member
November 3, 2023 10:10 pm

Just lovely. I have had many pets, both cats and dogs, (and the occasional guinea pig and hamster). and Some grab you more than others, but they all grab you. After we lost our last pet a few years ago, I swore that this time I was really done. And then I saw a rescue kitten, clearly in pain from a severe injury, attempting to play with a computer mouse that she had climbed up on a desk to get. And…following a successful surgery and recovery, she’s here beside me right now. Unfortunately, she lost one eye, but she gets everywhere that she wants to go, and plays with everything within reach, actual toys, gift wrap bows, any bit of paper that I will throw to her, etc. And I can no longer remember what it was like without her.

Last edited 6 months ago by lovethisconcept
ThinkMusicPhilly
Member
Trusted Member
November 4, 2023 11:16 am

One of my favorite songs is all about those times. It has brought me to tears multiple times, especially when we were driving to the emergency vet to have a final goodbye with Suki the Saturday after Thanksgiving 2017. She was on the verge of being put down 4 years earlier for a couple of bites that were entirely situational. My wife’s supervisor was fostering her at the time, and we were a dog-free house (our cat Tilly was much less enthusiastic about adopting Suki). Our “Little wolf” husky mix got 4 bonus years and filled and then broke our hearts.

https://youtu.be/dA3-c-OHMy4?si=BvNiaGD5xGhSt4YA

cappiethedog
Member
Famed Member
cappiethedog
Offline
November 5, 2023 8:07 pm

I’m a lazy Buddhist. I don’t attend services, or pray. But there is a shrine in the house for my dad, and four urns that contain the ashes of some very good boys.

Summer was a rescue. She had a heart problem that was out of your control. You gave her bonus years. She was lucky to have found you.

stobgopper
Member
Famed Member
stobgopper
Offline
November 6, 2023 1:07 pm

Dogs, jeez… –excuses himself, grabs a tissue-

Edith G
Member
Famed Member
Edith G
Offline
November 6, 2023 2:35 pm

I feel your pain, and sorry for your loss, friend. Great tribute to your past dogs, even if I’m not a dog person I think that all of them were great pets and better friends.

dutchg8r
Member
Famed Member
dutchg8r
Offline
November 16, 2023 12:51 pm

I’m just now reading this mt, I’m so sorry. [Virtual hugs]

I like to think that somehow our favorite pets live on in our future ones; it helps me at least to think that way… 😌

JonDeutsch
Member
Noble Member
JonDeutsch
Offline
February 2, 2024 9:47 am

Gee, thanks for the Friday Morning Tears, MT! Now look what you’ve done, what with your eloquently-articulated love and life stories, done all poetic-like and bursting with feels.

Next time, please add a warning sticker? 😎

18
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x